I woke up to a stunning sunrise view on the snow capped Kedarnath range from the picturesque hamlet of Dewar nested high above the Mandakini valley. The owner of the home stay brought me a bucket of hot water. My first shower in 26 days – that felt heavenly! Next was home made chapattis with cauliflower sabji – taste beyond compare with dhabas.
Today s target was to climb the ridgeline above Dewar to a 3250m peak on the way to the Mankha Khal pass, a solid 1400m ascent. I followed a nice cobbled path that started from the road which took me to an isolated dwelling at 2000m. From here a trail follows the ridgeline through the forest. At 2500m I hit the first snow on the Northern slope.
A few hamlets mentioned on my map were not to be found so probably wrongly marked. More snow gathered as we gained altitude. The path was clear until I touched a deserted dwelling half in ruins. Here the path completely vanished below the uniform snow blanket. I started climbing up towards the ridgeline (clear of snow) but encountered massive snow covered boulders and vegetation making it difficult to traverse.
I took my poles and fixed them at 105cm. With 4 points of contact I had much better stability on the steep, slippery slope. I could now climb faster across the challenging terrain. After a 300m ascent scrambling up I came back on the ridgeline which – thanks to sun – was clear of snow.
Mesmerizing views on the Kedarnath range unfolded in front of me.
One section of the ridge had a near vertical rise and required some mountaineering to climb up. The ridge was dropping down steeply on the Southern side. A vaguely used trail stayed on top and finally got me to a 3200m peak with 360 degree views at 2:30pm. I could see the valley leading up to the Mankha Khal pass where I got stuck the previous day.
The trail heading down at this side from the 2750m high pass was on the Northern slope so would be covered by snow. Based on my earlier experience I decided to take a U turn instead of losing the trail again in late afternoon. I reached back to Dewar around 5pm and followed a nice path down the valley slope to Guptakashi below. Here there is a replica of the Kedarnath temple.
Had a nice dinner in a small dhaba while charging my phone. The owner showed a keen interest in my background. Country, marriage, work, life, … the usual topics. I finally left continuing down s nice path to the Mandakini river on my way to Okimath at the start of my next traverse to Tunganath. The path entered into a forest region below Guptakashi.
Just above the river I found a school with a nice lawn to pitch up my tent. I settled down for the night catching up with some blogging and admiring the bright stars in the night above the city lights of Okimath.